It’s the latest tech from Burton that has turned snowboarding as we know it a complete 180. Previous industry attempts at minimum faffage boards have never taken, with systems that were heavy and unable to keep the promises they made but the Burton Step On is in a league all of it’s own.
Whilst on holiday in Avoriaz I was able to try a test run of the new system. With three years from a dedicated R&D team working on this project alone, the Burton team promised a strapless system that doesn’t compromise on comfort or performance. my expectations were high, here are my thoughts on the experience:
I have narrow, dancer ankles and wide feet which makes me a nightmare to fit for boots. Finding something that will support my turn out and rolling ankles as well as fit my broad bony toes is next to impossible and I’ve often felt that Burton boots in particular have been an awkward fit in the past. ENTER, their new double boa system. I tried a size 6 (my regular shoe size), my foot felt snug and supported, with little wiggle room at the top of the boot and I could tighten the upper boa to fit my leg and calves accordingly. What really sells these boots is the boa operated ankle strap, think of it as your built-in binding, being able to tighten this to my heart’s desire means I could really get my feet locked in position. I actually found I had to loosen the pressure a little after my first ride.
The Burton team were on hand to set the bindings up on a board for me, so I can’t comment on the ease of set up, but they have been designed to fit any board mechanism whether its the classic four hole or more recent Chanel system. The design is sleek, minimal and the highbacks fold down neatly when you’re not using them, no accidentally kicking rogue straps when you’re trying to punt about!
The Cool Bit
So my board’s been set up and my feet are strapped into my boots within an inch of their life, now for the exciting bit. I’M GONNA MUTHAFUCKIN STEP ON BITCHES.
The image I had in my head was a totally effortless stamp and go, in reality, it was a bit more complex. I had a brief demo and was instructed to make sure the heel engages first, then wait for two clicks from my toe. No problem. Right foot in; heel, toe, toe, boom. The left foot proved to be more of a struggle, I am a dancer and therefore have been turning my feet out since the age of three, which makes my preferred board stance Duck with 18 and 12 degree angles on my front and back foot. As I tried to angle my left foot out and lower it heel first into the binding I’m sure I resembled Bambi pawing at the edge of a frozen lake and immediately lost 100 cool points. Three attempts and I finally clipped in and was ready to go. I’d say the bindings are a bit tricky for duck stance riders but I definitely think this part will get easier with practise, I even managed to film the boyfriend clipping in whilst moving on his third attempt so it wouldn’t put me off!
I had the pleasure of testing a Burton Lipstick (145), the step up from my Socialite, and quite a small board for my size. We scooted off and headed to the chairlift, where the transition to un-clip for the journey up took seconds. I have to say, I have a new found respect for skiers; the fear I felt on the chairlift that the board might just drop from my foot at any moment was very real, thankfully we stayed safe and secure the whole time. The boots, bindings and board all handled incredibly, I was amazed at how fast a small board could go on the mountain. Usually, when I pick up speed I begin to freak out and think I won’t be able to keep control and initiate my turns but not on this set up! Not only did I feel completely in control, I felt supported, the boots kept my feet and rogue ankles in complete lock down and for the first time, it felt like engaging my whole body was effortless, instead of something I had to purposefully remind myself to do. I had complete confidence in the kit and it improved my riding style instantly.
My overall experience of the test was great, I think Burton really have created a worthwhile product and all the hype is definitely justified. However, I think I’ll hold off on jumping in and buying them straight away for a few reasons:
– They’re super expensive and only come in a limited selection of styles / colours (and I’m all about the style)
– No matter how many tests they do, there is bound to be a few teething problems and kinks that will occur from a brand new product
Give it a couple of years and this system will be more universal, with a wider variety of choices and and even better functionality, then I’ll definitely ‘Step On’.